If You Were a Supermarket

If You Were a Supermarket


Imagine if your company was a supermarket. Which one would it be? Supermarkets tend to have personalities. It seems that in any society certain classes prefer certain types of supermarkets, and supermarkets respond accordingly as well for supplying appropriate products to this kind of customers. In this exercise, delegates examine their company and decide on its qualities and how best it fits into the supermarket analogy. This analogy helps them to understand their company better.

If this course is provided to staff from a supermarket, use the car industry as an analogy.


Delegates should identify a supermarket as an analogy to their company.


  • Ask the delegates to consider the analogy of supermarkets and identify which supermarket best describes their company.
  • Ask the delegates to write a number of features that would support their choice. For example,
    • We supply top-of the range quality products to big customers. This is like serving richer classes of the society.
    • We use high quality components in our products which is similar to using high quality ingredients.
    • We focus on smaller number of expensive products to sell. We don’t necessarily try expanding everywhere with lots of branches. We want to go after the customers with cash!
    • We bend backwards to make sure the customer has a good time and are happy to help them as much as we can (much like expensive decorations in stores).
    • We are not interested to go for volume or have lots of buy-one-get-one-for-free offers popular in some other supermarkets.
    • We must be Waitrose!
  • Once delegates have written their choice, initiate a discussion and ask everyone to explain their position.


Explaining the Test: 5 minutes.

Activity: 15 minutes

Group Feedback: 15 minutes.


Emphasise that using analogy can be extremely powerful in seeing new concepts and relations that might not have been obvious before. It also makes it easy to see how new ideas fit into your corporate culture and how they fit with the analogy. Of course, as with any analogy, you can only take it so far. So people must be careful not to take it out of context.

As an amusing variation, you can also apply the supermarket analogy to the city you live in. Which supermarket best describes the city you live in? For example, Bristol (UK) is known to be a Tesco (supplying for all classes with a range of quality and cheap/basic products). Which city best matches with Asda? Are you living in a Sainsbury city? Why? This can lead to lots of fun and entertaining discussions both on cities, supermarkets, classes, people and society. Make sure you apply it to common supermarkets in your own country for maximum effect.

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